An Informal Q&A With
Jenny Newman, Producer of The Modern Library Awards and Publisher at LibraryWorks
Q: For those who aren’t familiar with the Modern Library Awards, can you tell us a bit about the program?
A: We started the Modern Library Awards – or MLAs – five years ago to recognize elite products and services in the library marketplace. The LibraryWorks readership, library professionals across all types of libraries – public, academic, K-12, and special – are a passionate, engaged group. They are very involved in the industry and on top of changing technology and trends. We thought it was time we gave them a chance to have their voices heard about the library hardware, software, furnishings, automation, and services that help make their libraries the centerpiece of their community or campus.
Q: It’s hard to believe that you're now going into your sixth award season. How did your fifth year go?
A: It was a whirlwind ... as always! We had a more than 45 percent increase in the number of entries over our inaugural year and a significantly higher level of participation from our library judges, who once again were fair and unbiased and really came through for us. We asked them for additional feedback and shared all scores and feedback with the vendors, which was greatly appreciated. Nothing more valuable than unbiased customer feedback! Entering the MLAs is an effective way to do some very low-cost research on customer satisfaction.
The special issue of Library Product News was a huge hit once again and the leads it generated were some of the best we’ve ever seen from any of our LibraryWorks programs.
But the best part, for me at least, was opening night of ALA Midwinter in Seattle when we distributed the gorgeous crystal trophies to all exhibiting honorees, along with some eye-catching signage. The trophies really created a buzz in the exhibit hall and the honorees were so proud to display them. We snapped lots of photos that our staff back in the office feverishly tweeted out all weekend long.
Q: Let’s say that I only have one product and last year I was honored with an MLA. Besides the customer feedback you just mentioned, is there any other reason why I should enter the same product again?
A: Absolutely. Being a 2019 honoree is terrific but who doesn’t want to be able to promote their product as a multi-year award honoree? As part of their award package, we will include a special award logo that will include verbiage that they are a 2020 and a past honoree. Also, our special edition of Library Product News will make a distinction for multi-year honorees and, as usual, be released right before ALA Midwinter - a fantastic way to promote your products and services to over 80,000 librarians!
Q: And what if you don’t score high enough to be awarded an MLA? What’s the risk?
A: There is absolutely no risk. We don’t publish or announce in any way a list of everyone who entered the program. However, you can use that feedback to improve or amend your current product or service – so you still get some valuable consulting from a panel of users.
Q: If I manufacture a product, a scanner or maybe ILS software, am I competing directly against my competition? In other words, are the judges ranking products by type?
A: No, they aren’t. Each product or service is judged on its own merit.
Q: So, bottom line: if I enter a product or services and I am awarded, let’s say “Platinum,” what next?
A: Oh, this is the fun part! In November, we would send you an awards package via email that will include your scores and feedback from the judges. We'll also send your MLA Platinum Honoree logo that you can use starting in January in all your marketing promotions – your website, email blasts, printed literature – you get the idea. Shout it from the rooftops that you've just been voted a Platinum honoree by the librarian community! We’ll also include a sample press release that you can modify for your own use. Any testimonials from the judges can be used in your press, marketing and social media efforts.
But that’s just the beginning. You’ll also be included as a Platinum honoree with a write-up in the special Library Product News supplement I mentioned, which is delivered to LibraryWorks’ 80,000+ subscribers in January. And of course, the lovely crystals delivered personally to your booth by LibraryWorks staff (photo-op!) or shipped to your corporate HQ.
Q: Last question, How do I apply?
A: It’s very easy and takes about 10 minutes. If you are a vendor or service provider with an existing product or service in the library marketplace, just fill out the application at www.modernlibraryawards.com and submit along with a nominal processing fee. We will then add your product(s)/service(s) to one of several judging forms that deploy to our reader judges. Our judges rate each product/service based on criteria about quality, service, functionality, value, etc. We make sure each product/service is judged by a true-user audience and meets statistical accuracy. Judges scores are on a 1-10 scale. Scores are then averaged, and issued to the company with recognition as a Platinum, Gold or Silver award honoree based on their score.